Notably different from the other
festive horrors of the 80s, "Don't Open till Christmas" takes a new twist
on the Xmas horror theme as, apart from being set in Britain, it has a killer
that's preying on Santa’s, as opposed to the killer being a Santa himself.
Police are called in to investigate
the killing of a wealthy businessman who was shot with a harpoon gun whilst
dressed up as Santa during an Xmas party. They initially suspect the daughter's
boyfriend, but it soon becomes apparent that the victim was just the latest in a
long line to have fallen prey to a serial killer, who's been targeting people
dressed up as jolly St Nick during the festive period..
As the film progresses, we are
treated to more and more scenes of various Santa’s being slayed (sleighed?) in
numerous gory ways, from simple stabbings, to being roasted on an open fire (I
kid you not!) and even chased into "The London Dungeon" waxworks, where they're
tormented and finally killed by one of the props on display. There's also a very
bloody killing in a lavatory using a cutthroat razor, which I won't go into
great detail about, but is bound to make every male viewer cringe.
Written and directed by Edward
Purdom (a regular in 80s Eurohorror films), who also played the lead role of
Inspector Harris, this very British movie was really more of a gory detective
drama than a horror, but was still quite entertaining to watch, even if the plot
does become somewhat disjointed half way through (probably due to Purdom
quitting part-way through filming, resulting in numerous re-shoots as supporting
cast members had to fill in for him).
Not the best of the Xmas horror films, but it’s certainly not the worst either.
If you can get hold of an uncut version, it makes for better entertainment than
watching the Queens Speech on Xmas day anyway. Look out for former Bond girl and
B-movie actress Caroline Monroe who has a brief role as a singer.
Overall marks : 5/10.
The film suffered
numerous production difficulties, which resulted in it being
shelved, rewritten and partially re-shot prior to its eventual
release. Edward Purdom, who also played Inspector Harris, quit
towards the end of production, so writer Derek Ford was then asked
to take over, but he got fired after only 2 days shooting. Another
writer, Al McGoohan, was brought in to re-work the script to fit
around the departure of Purdom's character and Ray Selfe was hired
to finish directing the picture, though Selfe only received a credit
as the films editor.
Minasian was one of the original financial backers and subsequent
rights holder of the original Friday the 13th, before he eventually
sold the rights off to Paramount in the late 80s.
Kevin Lloyd, who
plays Gerry the photographer, went on to play DCI Tosh Lines in the
UK cop show "The Bill" during the 1990s.
virtually every killing was either re-shot or had extra footage
added to make the film more graphic, including the ending and the
scenes set in the London Dungeon.
(who fans of "Grange Hill" will remember as Mr Mackenzie during the
90s) had a role as Dr Brindle, however this scene was cut out,
though his character is still mentioned in the script.
British born Edward
Purdom was a regular in Italian horror films during the 80s, his
credits include the monster hunting priest in "Absurd" (AKA
"Anthropophagus 2"), the president in "2019 - After the fall of New
York" as well as playing The Dean in the Spanish production
Most of the extra
gory scenes filmed during the re-shoots were cut back out again by
the BBFC for its original UK release.
Belinda Mayne, who
plays the female lead Kate, also appeared in "Alien Terror (AKA
"Alien : Sulla Terror").
The film was passed
uncut for a UK DVD release in 2003, however this version missed out
the scene showing a Santa getting shot and replaced it with the
lavatory killing scene, which originally took place later on in the
film. There is a US release which is reportedly uncut.